VILNIUS - A court decision can be suspended due to disobedient acts and suggestions from high-standing authorities. Such a conclusion, which terrifies many lawyers, could be made out of last week’s uprising in the small town of Garliava, situated near Kaunas. The uprising was the continuation of the never-ending story of Drasius Kedys.
On Oct. 5, 2009, Kedys, who said his young daughter has been the victim of pedophiles, gunned down a Kaunas judge and his daughter’s aunt. Earlier, Kedys publicly blamed both of them of being involved in the molestation. In April, he was found dead near Kaunas. Raimundas Petrauskas, interim prosecutor general, said that he is sure that Kedys was the sole killer. Experts from several Western European countries have been invited to confirm or deny conclusions by Lithuanian experts that Kedys died due to vomiting caused by alcohol abuse. Many Lithuanian experts, who were not invited to do the autopsy, say that they saw in the funeral’s film footage the signs of beatings on Kedys’ face, while the official autopsy did not notice anything.
On May 25, Petrauskas and prosecutor Algimantas Kliunka stated during their press conference that there is no doubt that the killings were committed by Kedys and he acted alone. Kliunka condemned the wide-spread media interpretations that the killings were committed by somebody else. “It was not done by Daktarai [notorious gang of Kaunas], pedophiles or UFO,” Kliunka said adding that there Kedys’ traces are all over the sites of killings. He also condemned the glorification of Kedys and described it as “kedism.”
Kedys and his former girlfriend, Laimute Stankunaite, now 23, had a legal battle over their daughter. On May 14, the court in the town of Kedainiai stated that the daughter should be handed over to the custody of Stankunaite. Judge Bronius Versackis stated that the girl should be returned to her mother and that there is no reason to object to such a decision.
Since the killings of Oct. 5, the daughter was under the temporary custody of judge Neringa Venckiene, who was Kedys’ sister. She lives in a nice house in Garliava.
The court’s decision provoked an uprising among the 13,000 residents of Garliava. On May 14, some 100 locals and people from other towns surrounded Venckiene’s house and, since then, they have been holding a round-the-clock vigil. They prevented officials from handing over the court’s ruling to Venckiene. The crowd of Kedys fans surrounding Venckiene’s house is very colorful: a former criminal and tattoo master, a nun, the local Catholic priest Jonas Varkala, mothers with little kids and young men with short haircuts. They are sure that Lithuania, including its courts, is ruled by pedophiles and Stankunaite is the pedophiles’ assistant. They also demonstrated their conviction that Kedys was killed by the pedophiles’ mafia. One of their banners appealed to President Dalia Grybauskaite, stating “President, you should ban the service of killers!”
The crowd was loudly praying and chanting “God, save the Lithuanian children!” There were some Lithuanian tricolors in the crowd as well as a lot of violet ribbons on the demonstrators’ clothes. Varkala even spoke about “the violet revolution.” Kedys was wearing a violet sweater in his most well-known photo, which was made by the daily Lietuvos Rytas. Gintaras Songaila and Saulius Stoma, MPs of the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats, visited the site, encouraging the crowd to protest, although Andrius Kubilius, their party leader and prime minister, described the crowd’s behavior as “criminal.”
On May 18, Stasys Sedbaras, MP of the Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats and chairman of the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, stated in the debate on Lithuanian public TV that the Garliava crowd is committing a crime by not allowing implementation of the court’s decision. This opinion was shared by other famous Lithuanian lawyers, such as Egidijus Kuris, former chairman of the Constitutional Court. They also expressed their disgust with the protesters’ activity, which instructed Stankunaite’s daughter to say “I don’t want to go to my mom” in front of TV cameras and the applauding crowd chanting “Bravo!” Edita Ziobiene, the children rights’ ombudswoman, said that the crowd’s behavior could traumatize the girl for the rest of her life, although the people around Venckiene’s house sincerely believe that they fight for the girl’s interest. After this program, Sedbaras received many threats on his mobile phone.
On May 18, Linas Balsys, spokesman for Grybauskaite, during his briefing in the president’s office indirectly condemned the violation of law in Garliava. “The President states that the child’s rights are the most important thing. The President urges everybody, especially politicians, to avoid pressure on law institutions,” Balsys said.
However, Parliament Speaker Irena Degutiene said in her televised interview that she does not understand the urgency of the Kedainiai court decision, while the hearings in the alleged pedophilia case against Stankunaite’s friend, Andrius Usas, have not started in the court yet.
The crowd near Venckiene’s house got encouraged by Degutiene’s words. Suddenly, Grybauskaite also decided to change her mind. “The higher court should make a decision as soon as possible having in mind the interests of the child,” Balsys translated Grybauskaite’s message during his next Kedys case-related briefing. On May 20, the court in Panevezys decided to suspend the Kedainiai court’s decision on the immediate return of her daughter to Stankunaite until the hearing on Venckiene’s appeal. Aidas Venckus, lawyer and Venckiene’s husband, read the Panevezys court’s decision to the crowd in Garliava.
Rimvydas Valatka, editor-in-chief of lrytas.lt, wrote in his column of May 24 that, since now the decisions of the courts are dictated by Grybauskaite and Degutiene, both are interested only in their ratings, and Lithuania could slide towards Russia-style ‘democracy’ where the courts always listen to ‘suggestions’ from high-standing authorities.
On May 24, the crowd prevented Kedys’ elderly mother from taking the girl to a scheduled meeting with Stankunaite. Such meetings should take place on a regular basis, on Mondays and Thursdays, according to an earlier court ruling, but since May 14, the angry crowd has prevented such meetings.
On May 24, two opposition Social Democrat MPs, Vytenis Andriukaitis and Justinas Karosas, during their press conference commented on the events in Garliava. “The Weimar Republic in 1930 was characterized as a republic in chaos with the Constitution, with its rules having no influence. Such a situation formed ‘politicians of the streets’ and allowed Hitler to come to power. Then various radicals, who knew only the power of the fist and the lynch law, as well as obedience to somebody’s will, came to power. In this way the Nazi dictatorship came to power in a democratic way! Do we not see the danger now, when the Constitution, so trampled, and legal education is non-existent in the country?” Andriukaitis asked rhetorically. He expressed his dissatisfaction with Degutiene’s public remarks regarding the court’s decision. Karosas echoed him, stating that not only Degutiene, but also some other leaders of the ruling Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats, were interfering in the case.